Indiana Humanities announces winners of Poetry Out Loud state competition.

Indiana Humanities announces the winners of the state contest of Poetry Out Loud®. The student winners are Aalihya Banks from Pike High School (Indianapolis) in first place and Kylah Hockemeyer…

Aalihya Banks, 2024 Indiana Poetry Out Loud winner

Indiana Humanities announces the winners of the state contest of Poetry Out Loud®. The student winners are Aalihya Banks from Pike High School (Indianapolis) in first place and Kylah Hockemeyer from Eagle Tech Academy (Columbia City) in second place.

“I feel speechless,” said Banks after her win. “I didn’t think it would be me, but I was very excited that it was. I feel like all my hard work paid off.”

Poetry Out Loud—presented in partnership with the Indiana Arts Commission (IAC), National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation—is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. Since the program began in 2005, more than 4.3 million students across the country have participated in Poetry Out Loud. On March 2, approximately 14 high school students participated in the Poetry Out Loud contest in downtown Indianapolis.

At the Indiana Historical Society, students recited works selected from an anthology of more than 1,200 poems. Judges evaluated student performances on criteria including voice and articulation, evidence of understanding, and accuracy. The judges for this year’s competition were Indiana State Poet Laureate Curtis Crisler, Mitchell L.H. Douglas, Siren Hand and Hiromi Yoshida, with Tony Brewer as the accuracy judge. 

“Watching these talented and driven students compete was an absolute joy to witness,” said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of Indiana Humanities. “Their passion for poetry and dedication to excellence is infectious and we’re grateful to our partners at the Indiana Arts Commission, Poetry Out Loud and the Poetry Foundation for the opportunity to celebrate them.”

“Each year, Poetry Out Loud serves as a reminder of the powerful role that creativity plays in the classroom,” said IAC executive director Miah Michaelsen. “We are grateful for Indiana’s Humanities’ stewardship of this program and their work to provide a platform for young Hoosiers to share their voices.” 

Aalihya Banks will receive $200 and advance to the national Poetry Out Loud contest between April 30 and May 2 in Washington D.C., where $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed. Pike High School will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry materials. Kylah Hockemeyer will receive $100, with $200 for Eagle Tech Academy. The Poetry Foundation provides and administers all aspects of the monetary prizes awarded and travel arrangements for the Poetry Out Loud National Finals.

The complete list of finalists for the state competition on March 2 is as follows:

  • Eliana Ortega, Jasper High School, Jasper
  • Aalihya Banks, Pike High School, Indianapolis
  • Kylah Hockemeyer, Eagle Tech Academy, Columbia City
  • Winnie Dong, Bloomington High School South, Bloomington
  • Eve-Marie Baxter, St. Thomas More Academy, South Bend
  • Allison Whitaker, North Decatur Jr./Sr. High School, Greensburg
  • Jehanna Fisher, Early College High School, Evansville
  • Ava Madrazo, Herron High School, Indianapolis
  • Dalanie Lamb, Indiana Digital Gateway Academy, Anderson
  • Bobbie Graves, Switzerland County High School, Madison
  • Christian Rhodes, Homestead High School, Fort Wayne
  • Kaden Sullivan, Monroe Central Jr./Sr. High School, Farmland
  • Ishita Kute, Columbus North High School, Columbus
  • Elle Strother, West Washington High School, Campbellsburg

Bios for all the students can be found here.